Fostering pride of place in the city

Peterborough Civic Society is delighted to contribute a regular column to the Peterborough Telegraph. It appears to us that those people and organisations already submitting articles do so with one overriding aim '“ to improve our city for the benefit of residents (current and future) and visitors, writes Toby Wood of the Civic Society.

Sunday, 21st January 2018, 5:00 pm
Voice of the City Henry Penn art work in Lower Bridge Street

Peterborough Civic Society works to improve the quality of life and to foster pride of place in Peterborough. We seek to safeguard the city’s heritage and encourage good design, balanced growth and sustainable development for the future. In short we wish to celebrate and promote Peterborough past, present and future. We have sometimes been criticised for appearing to be pedantic and nit-picky about what the city council is planning or supporting. This is not the case – we merely wish to see the best for the city, best designs, best building quality, best long-term planning for the city. We realise that this is not easy for a local authority strapped for cash, but we are more than happy to contribute positively to consultations and plans prior to final decisions being made.

A common misconception about the Society is that we wish to retain the past no matter what. This is not the case. Much of old Peterborough, quaint though it might have been, was not fit for purpose. You only have to look at old photographs of some of the city streets to see what poor condition some of them were in. We want to see a modern, outward-looking, clean and tidy Peterborough – that’s why we continue to campaign and lobby about the scourge of fly-tipping, parking on grass verges, maintenance of footpaths, cycleways and so much more. Indeed, we have recently been successful in obtaining an inquiry into the future of Guildhall Walk, and our Blue Plaques initiative has been welcomed both at a local and national level.

As well as thinking about the quality of life for Peterborough residents, we are also very keen to view our city from the perspective of visitors. Of course the Cathedral remains the key visitor attraction (and we must all do what we can to support the Peterborough Celebrates 900 campaign) but we must look at everything – cultural, educational, social, sporting – that might contribute towards a Peterborough long weekend staycation.

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So what is currently occupying our collective minds? Well plenty! The Fletton Quays development (minus its missing bridge) is growing rapidly, North Westgate isn’t - yet!

Peterborough University is just around the corner and 2018 could be the year when the public art in Peterborough really grabs our attention. Incidentally, great credit must go to Cllr Peter Hiller and staff at the council for having the vision to commission the brilliant Voice of the City Henry Penn art work in Lower Bridge Street – a high quality addition to the city’s streetscape. Let’s hope more is in the offing.

Although I have written this initial article, subsequent articles may be written by others in the society, either individually or collectively. After all there is a great deal to be written about Peterborough, past, present and future, and readers’ views are always welcomed!

Just come to one of our meetings or give your opinion by writing a letter or email to this newspaper. You, too, can be part of our drive for pride in Peterborough. Together we must seek the best for our fine city.